Friday, 28 January 2011

Oil Spill's Toll on the Environment

Oil spills are devastating. Not only do they cost millions of dollars in lost resources and time, but they take a heavy toll on the environment. Most people don't realize the extent of the damage that even a small oil slick can do to a fragile ecosystem. An ecosystem works on balance, and when something as destructive as oil enters into the equation, balance becomes a daunting task.
Here are some examples of the harm that an oil spill can cause:
  • Oil penetrates through the structure of the plumage of birds, reducing their insulating ability, thus making the birds more susceptible to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant.
  • When birds are exposed to oil during preening, they suffer kidney damage, changed liver function, and digestive tract irritation.
  • Oil coats the fur of sea otters and seals, having much the same effect that it has on birds.
  • Oil floats on water, and provides a barrier to light, reducing photosynthesis of marine plants and phytoplankton.
It is obvious from those examples how an oil spill can affect the bionetwork of an area by reducing food sources on the most basic level, with seabirds suffering some of the most fatalities.
Of importance to note is not only the short-term effects of an oil spill, but the long-term effects as well. The Exxon Valdez oil spill happened almost 20 years ago, and damage from that spill can still be witnessed today. 1,200 miles of shoreline was affected, killing hundreds of thousands of birds and other marine animals, many whose populations have yet to recover. Fish populations were also reduced, which cut into the livelihood of fisherman relying on the bounty of the sea for their livelihood.
As long as humans have been drilling for oil, there have been oils spills. The 10 most infamous oils spills are:
  1. Amoco Cadiz in France on March 16, 1978
  2. Arabian Gulf Spills cased by destroyed tankers during the Gulf War in 1991
  3. Argo Merchant off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts on December 15, 1976
  4. Barge Bouchard 155 on August 10, 1993 in Tampa Bay, Florida
  5. Barge Cibro Savannah at the pier of Citgo facility in Linden, New Jersey on March 6, 1990
  6. Burmah Agate on November 1, 1979 in the Gulf of Mexico
  7. Exxon Valdez in Alaska on March 24, 1989
  8. Ixtox I, a deep exploratory well, blew out on June 3, 1979 in the Bay of Campeche.
  9. Jupiter near Bay City, Michigan on the Saginaw River on September 16, 1990
  10. Megaborg southeast of Galveston, Texas on June 8, 1990
The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been called one of the largest oil spills in history, often being compared to Exxon Valdez. You can view photos taken by NASA from the space station, which show a frightening reality of how large this spill is via pretty much any of the news channels available in satellite television packages.
Lincoln Wilder loves all things entertainment. His weekly music blog is a compilation of celebrity madness, album reviews, concert news, & sleezy celebrity drama; always written with absolute honesty and irresistible hints of sarcasm. Armed with only a laptop and satellite deals, Wilder surfs the streams for the latest and not always greatest of the music world. If it involves music and is notable, it's on his blog. While some call it madness, he calls it living, (not "a living," as that would suggest compensation of some kind). Wilder does what he does purely for the joy of it, and is always open to the suggestions of his followers.